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New bishop ordained in colourful ceremony witnessed by Gachagua

Rift Valley
 DP Rigathi Gachagua congratulates Bishop John Kiplimo Lelei during his ordination at Mothers of Apostle Seminary, Eldoret. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

The Catholic Diocese of Eldoret now has an Auxiliary Bishop after the elect, Monsignor John Kiplimo Lelei was ordained in a colourful ceremony witnessed by faithful from North Rift and other regions.

The Episcopal ordination saw a blend of religion and rich traditional heritage and was conducted at the Mother of Apostles minor seminary grounds in Eldoret.

The new Bishop was ordained in adherence to the Catholic Church traditions, in an event presided over by the main consecrator Archbishop Hubertus van Megen who is the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya.

Leaders led by Deputy President (DP) Rigathi Gachagua, President William Ruto's aide Farouk Kibet, Cabinet Secretaries Simon Chelugui, and Kipchumba Murkomen joined the hundreds of Catholic faithful in the event.

Others are Nandi Governor Stephen Sang, Elgeyo Marakwet’s Wisley Rotich, Jonathan Bii of Uasin Gishu and Senators Jackson Mandago, Samson Cherargei (Nandi) Seki Lenku (Kajiado) among others.

Bishops from across the country led by Anthony Muheria, the vice chair of Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Archbishop Philip Anyolo (KCCB Chairperson) and the Eldoret Diocese Bishop Dominic Kimengich among other regional representatives were in attendance.

During the ordination rite, the new Bishop first lay prostrate on the altar, after which prayers were offered. He was then annointed with oil on the forehead and a ring was put on his left ring finger emblematic of the mystical betrothal of the Bishop to his church.

What followed next was a headdress known as mitre, which is worn by Bishops as a mark of his office and a symbol of authority. The Bishop was finally given a staff, also a symbol of authority.

Once the ordination rites were done, the faithful were involved in partaking of the holy communion. At the end of the Catholic mass entered a brief traditional ceremony, over which elders from the Nandi and Kikuyu communities presided.

The Bishop was dressed in full Nandi leadership regalia with Sambut (monkey skin gown), headgear, a cane (nokirwet), and a fly whisk (kipkaliangit) used by elders to offer blessings.

His mother was then called upon to offer (semwet) and sour milk (mursik), which he drank four times from the traditional gourd.

Pope Francis appointed then Reverend Father Lelei as the Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret in March. The ordination means Bishop Lelei will be an assistant to Bishop Kimengich.

Deputy President Gachagua congratulated the new Bishop while hailing the blend of tradition and religion that was at play during the ceremony.

"I came here on behalf of President William Ruto who is on his way from a successful official visit to the United States. He will be back home in the evening," he said.

He thanked the Catholic Church for being at the forefront of promoting affordable healthcare through mission hospitals across the country.

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